Personal trainers can help people reach their health and fitness goals, or they could be big wastes of money. It’s tough to know whether or not you need a trainer’s expertise. And if you do, it’s even more difficult to pick the right one. There are many fitness centers that offer personal training for their members. Often, the personal trainer at the gym it’s done at a premium and additional fees can be pretty expensive, and their high-pressure salespeople might try to convince you to buy a package. But before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important that you’re making the right decision with the right person to help you reach your goals.
Personal trainers are not just for the rich and famous. If you lack the motivation to work out on your own, like variety but don’t know how to create your own program, or you have very specific training goals, you might benefit from hiring a trainer. If you decide that you need a trainer, how do you get started?
Where Do I Find a Personal Trainer?
There are a number of different ways to find a trainer. The most common is through your local gym or fitness center. Or you can perform a search for “personal trainer near me” or “personal trainers near me“. These facilities typically offer personal training packages for an additional cost. This is usually an addon on top of membership fees. The gym you belong to may also allow you to bring in an outside personal trainer, one that is not affiliated with the gym one that you hire, but this is the exception to the rule as most gyms have exclusivity contracts with the trainers who work at their location. If you don’t belong to a fitness center, you still might be able to train at one. Not every gym will require you to be a member to use their personal training services (although the cost might be higher for non-members). Contact the facility to learn more about their policies.
A referral is also a good way to find a personal trainer, since it helps to get feedback from someone who has already used the trainer’s services. Just keep in mind that what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. For example, your friend might respond well to their trainer’s “tough love” approach, but that might not be for you.
You can also find trainers in your local paper or online. Some trainers will come to your home. If you have your own workout equipment, this could be a convenient and time-saving way to use their services. As a safety precaution, though, be sure to conduct a thorough background check on any person you might invite into your home for a private session.
What Should I Look for in a Personal Trainer?
One of the most important things to ask about is a trainer’s credentials. Your trainer should have a reputable certification and, preferably, a degree in the exercise/fitness field. Here are a few websites of reputable certification bodies that allow you to search for trainers in your area:
- National Strength & Conditioning Association
- American Physical Therapy Association
- American College of Sports Medicine
- National Athletic Trainers’ Association
- Indiana Athletic Trainers’ Association
- Great Lakes Trainers’ Association
- American Alliance of Health Education, Recreation and Dance
- Indiana Association of Health Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Websites like these are helpful because they also give information about the trainer’s qualifications, which are important when making a decision about what personal training organization is best for you.
Your trainer should have a current CPR and First Aid certification, as well. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a copy of all of their certification cards to make sure they are current.
How Should I Interview a Potential Trainer?
Remember that you are hiring this person to work for you. Treat your first meeting like a job interview. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their personal training philosophy, what specific things they will do to help you reach your goals, and how they think they can be of service to you. These questions will help get you started:
- What kind of experience and credentials do you have?
- What kind of motivational techniques do you use to help your clients reach their goals?
- Knowing my specific fitness goals, what kind of workout plan will you develop to help me?
- How often will you change my workout routine?
- Do you have current clients I could contact as references?
This first meeting should be free, and if it’s not, find a different trainer who will answer these questions before you have to commit to buying anything. There are lots of trainers out there with a variety of personalities and styles, so don’t be afraid to interview a few before you decide which one is the best match for you.
What Kind of Packages Do They Offer
Typically, the fewer sessions you buy, the more each will cost. Also ask about payment options, whether a full payment is expected up front, per session, or as installments over time.
Can You Buy Individual Sessions
This refers to single sessions of personal training as opposed to a package of several sessions.
What is Their Refund Policy?
Especially if you are hiring a personal trainer that works for your gym, ask about this one. If your trainer is no longer employed there, for example, will you be able to get a refund for the sessions you paid for or will you be forced to continue with another fitness trainer? If you are unhappy with your trainer, is it possible to get your money back?
Do They Offer Multiple-client Sessions
Group training usually costs less per person. If you can exercise with a few friends, you will all save money as you lose weight together.
If I buy a package?
Make sure the package won’t expire before you have a chance to use all of the sessions you paid for.
What Hours are They Available to Train
If your trainer can’t commit to a schedule that works for you, then find another trainer who can.
What Type of Fitness Assessments do You Perform
A good personal trainer performs fitness assessments such as :
- Body fat testing
- Blood pressure screening
- Endurance tests
All of which will help your trainer gauge your starting fitness level and design a safe exercise program. Typically, she should perform these assessments over time and adjust your training program accordingly.
Does the Trainer Have a Cancellation Policy
Many trainers will require 24 to 48 hour’s notice for you to cancel a session without having to pay for the missed session.
What Should I Avoid in a Personal Trainer?
Although there are many reputable personal trainers out there who know what they are doing, there are also those who don’t. Here are a couple of common warning signs to look for that will tell you if should run in the opposite direction of this trainer. Because they are bad news.
Does the Trainer Sell Supplements?
The first “red flag” that a personal trainer may not be the best for you if they try to sell you supplements of any kind. In today’s gym world, everyone is trying to sell some “healthy” version of CBD. There are a number of personal trainers that make a HUGE commission for the products they sell. To say this is a conflict of interest is a massive understatement. Unless you have aspirations to become a powerlifter, bodybuilder, fitness or strongman participant, you will be able to get all of the nutrients you need from a diet rich in Omega fatty acids, vegetables and fiber. Honestly, most people don’t need protein powders, energy drinks and other supplements to help them succeed in their fitness journey. It’s important to find a personal trainer who isn’t going to push these kinds of products.
A Personal Trainer Doesn’t Mean Diet Expert
Just because someone is a personal trainer does not mean they are qualified to give advice about the best diet for you to consume. Many bad personal trainers will call themselves “nutritionists,” but that does not mean they have a degree or any formal training in this area. In fact, the only person legally qualified to give diet advice specific to you would be a Registered Dietitian. If your personal trainer is creating meal plans for you that are outside of the guidelines of the Food Guide Pyramid, they are breaking the rules. Be very careful when getting nutritional advice from a trainer. If you need help with your diet, it’s best to consult a registered dietitian in your area.
Hiring a Trainer Can Make a Workout Enoyable
In general, hiring a trainer can be a good way to make your workouts more enjoyable, effective and targeted to your specific needs. It’s important to do your homework before hiring someone to make sure you get the expertise you’re paying for. Then you’re more likely to be satisfied with your investment and will be one step closer to reaching your health and fitness goals!